Zazen & the Colonoscopy

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Our series on "Zazen in the Hospital" continues with today's adventure in my "soon turning 50" routine medical check up ... the dreaded:


(A little more dreaded here in Japan, where no anesthesia is used and the patient is wide awake the whole time. Talk about an "Inner Enlightenment"!)

A little known fact is that the Buddha himself had a "personal physician" (Dr. Jivaka), and the odd middle-aged tummy troubles . ..

The turning point in Jivaka's life came when Ananda came to fetch him to treat the Buddha who suffered from "blocked intestines" (constipation?).When Jivaka saw the condition of the patient, it occurred to him he might not survive a strong purgative. He then had fat rubbed into the Buddha's body and gave him a handful of lotuses to inhale the essence emanating from the flowers. JÄ«vaka was away when the mild purgative was later administered to the patient, and he suddenly remembered that he had omitted to ask him to bathe in warm water to complete the cure process. The Buddha, it is said, read his thoughts and bathed as required.( Vin.i.279f; DhA. ii.164f).

(Later Buddhists often tried to discount the fact that the Buddha sometimes got sick in the old stories, by saying that he only was pretending as a way to teach or convert others to the Dharma; and it was in fact impossible for him to experience pain. But I don't know about that ... I rather like the image of a very human "Buddha" who would sometimes moan and groan with a bad stomach or backache.)

Anyway, all is impermanent, and that most certainly includes you and me. But that's okay, when we allow it to be okay. Life is not "suffering" because we grow old, get sick and die. Life is only "suffering" when we grow old, yet cling to being forever young ... get sick, but refuse that fact ... death, because we cling to life. Our Zen practice is, at heart, about letting go ... going with the flow ... flowing as the flow .... only flowing ... not even that ...

But, still, I found today's procedure sometimes a bit painful at moments (just a little ... don't put off getting one), and a tad scary too when thoughts of "the worst" would briefly come into mind ... But that is just human ...

Hand in hand with that,  Zazen practice made today a whole and peaceful place to be too  ...

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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